The certainty: After a good opening day, the Bellarmine Prep girls were going to roll to their fifth consecutive Class 4A girls golf championship Thursday.
The uncertainty: Could the Lions double up at Club Green Meadows in Vancouver?
Well, they did – and it was 2012 state champion Alivia Brown who overcame a three-stroke deficit with three holes to play in the final round to win her second 4A title.
A few miles down the road at Camas Meadows, the Puyallup High School boys were equally as impressive.
With three placers in the top five, capped by Mitchell Baldridge’s runner-up finish to winner Rudy Caparas of Lynnwood, the Vikings took home their first 4A team title.
After six Lions made the cut Wednesday, the 4A girls team race was all but over. That did not stop coach Mark Bender was talking to his golfers about improving their course management in the final round.
The reminder worked. Brown shot an even-par 72, Olivia Benzin had a 75, and Lilly Navarre came in with a 79 as Bellarmine Prep finished with 1811/2 points — the highest score recorded at a 4A tournament.
“When you get six here (making the cut), and most of them finish inside the top 20, you are going to be tough to beat,” Bender said.
At the par-3 16th hole, Brown trailed overnight leader and defending 4A champion Sierra Kersten of Lewis and Clark High in Spokane.
But Kersten ran into trouble after her tee shot found the back greenside bunker. It took her two shots to get out of the sand trap, and she ended up making a triple bogey to fall into a tie for the lead at 5-over.
On the next hole, a par-4, Brown’s approach shot out of a muddy area ran 35 feet past the hole.
“Jamie (Midkiff of Eastlake) had that putt right before me but from farther back. Hers ... went down the hill and way past,” Brown said. “I just needed to get the right speed.”
She did. The ball tracked just left of the hole, then curved right over the final few feet to drop in the back of the cup for a decisive birdie.
Kersten had a chance to tie on the final hole, but her 20-footer for birdie missed on the left side, and Brown became the first Bellarmine Prep girl to win two state titles.
“I’ve been privileged to play on a team with six-to-10 solid golfers,” said Brown, a Washington State University signee. “Moving forward, I am just excited to get to that next level.”
After struggling to a 76 to open the 4A boys tournament, Puyallup’s Chase Carlson got it going early Thursday.
Even after a bogey at No. 15, Carlson rebounded by rolling in an 18-footer for birdie at No. 16 en route to a 2-under 70.
“Our guys knew he was playing well,” Puyallup coach Glenn Halverson said. “I would like to think they fed off that.”
Baldridge birdied the final hole to shoot 73, and finish at 2-over 146, tying him with Jefferson’s Sean Yi (77) and defending 4A champion Brian Humphreys of Camas (69) for second.
It was the Vikings’ best individual finish since Ryan Moore, now on the PGA Tour, won the 4A title in 2001 at Avalon Golf Club.
And Tanner Kovacevich shot 76 to tie Carlson for fifth place at 147. The Vikings scored 112 points as a team to run away from runner-up Bellarmine Prep (76).
“We’ve always had good team chemistry,” Halverson said. “For whatever reason, these guys were able to click ... and handle the pressure here a little bit better.”
In the 3A boys tournament at Tri Mountain Golf Course in Ridgefield, Fort Vancouver’s Spencer Tibbits stayed steady on the back nine to shoot his second consecutive 2-under 70 to spoil Juanita star Frank Garber’s bid for the first 3A three-peat.
Garber shot a 68 to finish at 3-under 141. Peninsula’s Adam Baker and Decatur’s Spencer Clapp tied for ninth at 153.
In the 3A girls tournament at Lewis River Golf Course in Woodland, Mercer Island’s Rachel Fujitani shot a 1-over 73 to win by one shot over Ingraham’s Sarah Rhee (73).
Fujitani finished at 2-over 146.